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Erudition

EruditionWolf settled back into an over-stuffed armchair and listened as Professor Winston Barnes gave her a rundown on muti.

Professor Barnes was a small, neat man with a penchant for three-piece suits and Wolf was smitten with his voice. It had a deep, rich tone, the precise diction of a BBC newsreader and the musical cadence common to many African- and Indian-born English speakers. Wolf wondered if she could get him to read the phone book to her. Shaking off her musing, she turned her attention back to the Professor.

"So the animal bones are muti?"

The Professor tilted his head. "Yes and no. You must understand that these examples are very crude. Whoever made this didn't have a clue about what they were doing." He picked up an evidence bag containing one of the bone fetishes that Wolf had retrieved from Mrs Mzizana's garbage. "You said that the gentleman of the house, Mr Ngema, had a shipment seized. It's only a guess, but I suspect he may be supplying muti objects to a third party. With the consignment impounded, he may have resorted to making his own muti as a replacement for an order."

Wolf nodded, the explanation made sense. The string of red, white and black beads — colours sacred to many sangoma practitioners — would probably have been souvenired from one of his shipments, possibly as a toy to distract Samuel. "You think this third party is a bit upset about his gear going astray and is putting the hard word on?"

Professor Barnes held up his hands. "Perhaps it is the pressure of time or the money is too big and incentive to resist. Until we know who this third party is, it is all guesswork."

"So what does that have to do with the child?"

The Professor held up a hand. "That is why I asked Inspector Craddock to join us." As if on cue a large, out of breath man in a bad suit opened the door. "Ah, perfect timing, dear Sir."

Introductions and credentials were exchanged, and Wolf learned that the Inspector had an interest in both Mr Ngema and Mrs Mzizana in connection with the trafficking of prohibited items. She also learned that the third party was very likely Naledzani Madide, a self-styled sangoma or traditional healer who serviced black South African ex-pats.

Wolf asked her question of the Inspector.

Craddock, who'd turned out to be something of a fidgeter, stopped jiggling his foot and looked slightly pale under his still-flushed cheeks. "What child?"

"Samuel." Wolf explained that they found the runaway this morning, but that the house showed no signs of a child living there. No pictures, no toys, no effusive, besotted mother, nothing.

"You sent the child home?"

Shaking her head, Wolf grinned. "No, the boy's safe for the moment." The Inspector visibly relaxed.

"Thank god for that. We now think that Ngema and Mzizana have been trafficking in children. Until recently, we assumed they were involved with that idiot preacher and his miracle babies scam." Wolf had heard about the self-styled Archbishop and his child-kidnapping ring, the man had been making quite a tidy profit out of selling stolen babies to desperate couples, babies that he claimed had materialised through the power of prayer.

"So what are they involved in?"

"Some of the items that were seized in the last shipment were dried human penises." Professor Barnes carefully put the evidence bags on his desk back in their box.

"And that's part of muti?" Wolf could see why the Professor and Inspector were concerned.

The Professor shook his head. "You would be familiar with people believing that if a little medicine is good, then more must be better, yes?" Wolf nodded.

Inspector Craddock interrupted. "Madide is a charlatan who feeds on this belief and will do anything for money. I believe that the children are being killed to create a more powerful muti."

As Wolf grabbed her phone and dialed Declán, she looked across at Craddock. "I think we need to have a serious chat, Inspector."

--

15minuteficletsword #98: juvenile
moonbeamsfanfic — challenge: declán and a child
Part of the Sangoma!verse and the Wolf&Declán!verse

Comments

( 20 howls — talk to the wolf )
pheral
20th Mar, 2005 13:30 (UTC)
oooh and ahhh and ewww and all kinds of other reactionary sounds! save the boy! get the baddees! stop carrying that phonebook around!
redwolf
20th Mar, 2005 21:43 (UTC)
Wolf has arranged for the lovely Professor Barnes to record some stuff for an iPod, if that's any help.
pheral
21st Mar, 2005 01:31 (UTC)
::stabs all ipods ever::

NO

oh wait. ::rescues the U2 signed ipods and sticks them together:: i'll use these ones then, i suppose. yeesh.
redwolf
21st Mar, 2005 01:46 (UTC)
Why? On both counts.

Yeah, at least the U2 version is black instead of white or repulsive pastel, but what a lame sell out.
pheral
21st Mar, 2005 13:11 (UTC)
oh i don't know, i guess there's not actually anything wrong with Ipods, its just the traditional elitism that such crazes create that piss me off. When people see an MP3 player that isnt an Ipod and sneer, and i think, jesus i don't have a thousand songs or £200, so for £50 i can get a player much smaller, for just the right amount of songs, and what's wrong with that?? Damn this world of commerical flocking, dammnit i say!

And u2, hell, i'd not say no, because... they're u2. And yeah, i'd take black and read over pastels anyday.
redwolf
21st Mar, 2005 22:02 (UTC)
It's not like there's a cheaper alternative. Here, all of the clones are the same stupid prices as the iPods.

My biggest bitch was that you were restricted to the evil of iTunes. Seriously crap software that renamed all my MP3s and completely crashed my computer twice. But as of yesterday, I found out you can use WinAmp with a plugin to get it to talk to the iPod. Apparently there's also plugins for WMP, but that's even worse software than iTunes.

Now, if only they can get their colours sorted, I'll be much happier.
pheral
29th Mar, 2005 12:07 (UTC)
there are tons of alternatives out there, its just a matter of looking online i guess. over here none of the alternatives are remotely like the ipods. still, i got mine from an internet company in Norway, a model that's not been released mainstream yet. Does the job rightly.

I've never been to iTunes happily, and i never shall. Mwah.
willshenilshe
20th Mar, 2005 13:59 (UTC)
Ack! But wonderfully written as ever.
redwolf
20th Mar, 2005 21:44 (UTC)
This is what happens when you're a newshead. Or read Warren Ellis' blog.
moonbeamsfanfic
20th Mar, 2005 17:43 (UTC)
They were gonna do what to that boy?! Poor Samuel! ::shudders:: Thank god for Declán... I think he'll be deserving something special from Rachel when this all over. ::pets her puppy::

Say, do you someone in mind when you think of a voice you'd love to have read you the phone book? You've got me curious. ;)
redwolf
20th Mar, 2005 21:51 (UTC)
Samuel's blood, limbs, head and genitals would have ended up muti, then the body dumped. The torso of a young boy was found in the Thames a few years back.

I'm still determining how much the couple actually know about Samuel's possible fate. Based on some cases, the parents will offer up their own child to these morons. But the miracle baby case does muddy the waters somewhat. That one's real too.

No specific voice in mind. I have a thing for voices, lots of different voices.
edenfalling
20th Mar, 2005 18:38 (UTC)
Oh. My. God.

And something like this really happened??? *feels sick* I am SO glad Declan's keeping Samuel away from that house.

Also, the description of Professor Barnes's voice was very well done. I could almost hear it.
redwolf
20th Mar, 2005 21:54 (UTC)
I wouldn't say it's common in the UK, but there have been a few cases in London. It's much more common in South Africa, where is sometimes involves people's own children. The miracle baby story is also real, the guy involved in that still swears it the power of prayer.
irishvampire13
20th Mar, 2005 23:15 (UTC)
Lovin' the characters, lovin' the plotline, etc...

~~smitten with his voice~~
If it's even remotely James-Earl-Jones-esque, I can very much relate.
redwolf
20th Mar, 2005 23:20 (UTC)
No one particular in mind when I did the voice, but mmm... James Earl Jones...

(Deleted comment)
redwolf
21st Mar, 2005 22:07 (UTC)
Bugger slipping into the story, I'll just pack you off to South Africa to help the local plods with their backlog of cases. While this is rare in the UK, it's frightening common in Africa.
(Deleted comment)
chessie_reeves
24th Mar, 2005 06:45 (UTC)
O_O *winces* That is horrible fate for anybody. I really like how you wrote this piece because it answers a few of my questions from earlier. Great job!
redwolf
24th Mar, 2005 07:33 (UTC)
Happy to have answered your questions. As always the arseholes responsible for this kind of thing are not Sangoma, but charlatans.
( 20 howls — talk to the wolf )